Do you shoot rusty shotgun shells?

HoughLePuff

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Sep 23, 2019
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I have been hunting waterfowl along the coast of Texas on a small piece of public land for a couple of years. A lot of the time we have a lot of leftover shells that get rusty before the end of the day. Are these shells safe to shoot?

I have shot rusty shells the past few seasons without problems with my shotgun but my buddy who has a semi, had some problems. A couple of them would not fire. He didn't have any issues cycling the rusty shells but half of them would not fire. He did take a nasty spill in the marsh and I'm sure they were completely soaked.

Do you fire rusty shells? Do you clean the rust off your shells and how? When hunting brackish water are shells getting rusty pretty common? Thanks!
 

Tex68w

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I usually don't but I rarely have rusty shells and we hunt the coastline here in Texas the majority of the time as well. That said, this past hunt my blind bag got knocked off of its perch and into the water soaking three boxes of shells. Needless to say we ended up shooting some of those shells that as you know rusted almost immediately. I don't like doing it because I don't like getting salty water/moisture in the action of my shotgun but nearly everything is PVD coated on it and I sprayed the crap out of the action with Rem Oil to help prevent any further corrosion. So while they work and have always gone bang, I personally don't like doing it unless otherwise necessary.
 
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HoughLePuff

HoughLePuff

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I usually don't but I rarely have rusty shells and we hunt the coastline here in Texas the majority of the time as well. That said, this past hunt my blind bag got knocked off of its perch and into the water soaking three boxes of shells. Needless to say we ended up shooting some of those shells that as you know rusted almost immediately. I don't like doing it because I don't like getting salty water/moisture in the action of my shotgun but nearly everything is PVD coated on it and I sprayed the crap out of the action with Rem Oil to help prevent any further corrosion. So while they work and have always gone bang, I personally don't like doing it unless otherwise necessary.
Thanks for the reply. If I had the money I would always bring a new box of shells to the marsh every time. But since an average box is around $12-15 it's hard to justify the cost, especially since we get skunked about 50% of the time!
 

Tex68w

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I don't blame you one bit, shoot what you've got. Sorry to hear about getting skunked, hunting the coast requires a lot of scouting to see where the birds are holding and then the other half is hoping that others don't setup right on top of you in your honey hole, that's becoming a huge problem down here. Hopefully this colder weather over the next few weeks will push a new crop of birds down during the split.
 

thewaterfowler

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I would never advocate shooting rusty shotgun shells. To me, your shotgun shells are one of the most critical tools of your whole hunting trip. Comparing the total cost to hunt, your shells are one of the LEAST expensive pieces of your total cost. Your shells are vital to what you are able to harvest and how effectively you do so. Do yourself a favor and check out the Hevishot family of shotgun shells and you will get the "biggest bang for your buck" with FAR fewer crippled birds in the field. Also, you will find that you shoot
far fewer shells to get your limit of birds.
 
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HoughLePuff

HoughLePuff

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I don't blame you one bit, shoot what you've got. Sorry to hear about getting skunked, hunting the coast requires a lot of scouting to see where the birds are holding and then the other half is hoping that others don't setup right on top of you in your honey hole, that's becoming a huge problem down here. Hopefully this colder weather over the next few weeks will push a new crop of birds down during the split.
We were hunting the Justin Hurst WMA where its a lottery drawn system to choose your hunting spot. Seemed like a lot of other people had great success during yesterday's rainy morning but we didn't have a single duck come into our spread.
 
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HoughLePuff

HoughLePuff

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I would never advocate shooting rusty shotgun shells. To me, your shotgun shells are one of the most critical tools of your whole hunting trip. Comparing the total cost to hunt, your shells are one of the LEAST expensive pieces of your total cost. Your shells are vital to what you are able to harvest and how effectively you do so. Do yourself a favor and check out the Hevishot family of shotgun shells and you will get the "biggest bang for your buck" with FAR fewer crippled birds in the field. Also, you will find that you shoot
far fewer shells to get your limit of birds.
From what I have seen in stores it seems like Heavishot sells a variety of shells. I usually stick with #4 shot 3 or 3.5 inch 12 gauge shells. Is there a line you might recommend? I typically bag small to medium size ducks at a variety of ranges if that helps.
 

Tex68w

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Hevi Shot are nice and I'll snag them when available or competitively priced. I still grab some form of Kent's when available as well and I have had good luck with Federal's recently. I don't bother with the BlackCloud stuff.
 

Warmsy

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Jul 24, 2020
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We hunt from kayaks going up river from the coast of California. Everything is most and rusty by the end of the day. Clean the shotguns, obviously. Wipe the shells with a clean towel, set on the window sill ro fully dry. No problems. Haven't dropped live shells in the water, yet. We both use pumps.
 

Tex68w

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I've never had an issue with shells rusting in the box so long as they don't get dunked lol. Spraying them down with oil if it's an open box that doesn't get totally shot by the end of the hunt isn't a bad idea, but I won't go spraying down every box of shells before a hunt lol.
 

Billy Goat

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Be careful with soaked shells, if they are sealed you're fine. Steel pellets can rust into a slug, if given enough time.

Surface rust on the shell? I don't worry about it much.

Fingernail polish over the primer and crimp can seal them if they aren't sealed from the factory. Time consuming. If you are frequently dropping shells in the water, I'd figure out how to stop dropping them.
 

thewaterfowler

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Hough,
What you will see with Hevishot is that you can use a smaller SHOT size and be very effective. I personally hunt predominately puddle ducks in rice and soybean fields.
I prefer anything from 2's to 4's in 3" shells. We have people in our club that use Hevishot 3" 6's and absolutely wear the mallards out well past 50-60 yards. The shot in the Hevishot shells retain their energy way past traditional steel and even lead shot. If you have ever been in a blind and seen ducks hit, feathers going everywhere yet the duck keeps on flying? What is going on is that the shot does not have enough energy to punch through the duck to their vital areas. YOU JUST DO NOT SEE THAT WITH THE HEVISHOT SHELLS.
 

la angler

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Nov 27, 2020
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I would shoot them if they are sealed good and you can remove the rust with a piece of steel wool
 

Sccritterkiller

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Apr 8, 2019
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I hunt a lot of sounds and marshes...if the rusty ones shoot I shootem, if not I rack the gun till one goes off..If I didn't shoot rusty shells I wouldn't have any to shoot...lol I can count on one hand the times it didn't go off...think some of those were left over from the season before....
 
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